Local talent

 • An artist’s impression of the Perth Comic Arts Festival (above), and a comic from the Tale Town Inglewood project.

THOR, Hulk and Superman will take a back seat at the Perth Comic Arts Festival next Saturday (July 3).

Instead there will be a focus on local comic-making talent with artist talks, workshops and a comic market and exhibition.

The free annual PCAF was first held in 2018 at Edith Cowan University, and after missing 2020 because of covid, it’s back with a bang with more than 60 comic-makers and artists.

Festival co-founder Elizabeth Marruffo says two anthologies encapsulate the beauty of locally made comics.

“The first is the West Coast Comic Anthology that has been put together by Neighbourhood Press,” she says.

“This anthology collects 36 local comics makers who have all made works that explore the idea of ‘place’. 

“The second exciting collection is from the Tale Town Inglewood project that saw 18 Inglewood residents work over five weeks to retell their own personal stories of the suburb through sculpture, diorama and by making their very own newspaper filled with comics.”

Marruffo is a painter and textile artist, but she has created a comic for this year’s event and describes herself as “huge comics enabler”. 

She is married to illustrator Campbell Whyte and owns Milktooth, a Perth art school for kids. 

She says the festival will be kid-friendly with comics and workshops specifically for children.

Like most festivals that seem to pop out of nowhere, PCAF was the byproduct of a community group.

“Milktooth cofounder Campbell Whyte took part in the Comic Arts Workshop retreat in Tasmania back in 2015,” she says.

“It was the first time he was a part of a comics community and when he came back to Perth he started the Comics Maker Network, which provided opportunity for local comics makers to come together. 

“From this, the festival started bubbling away and grew out of the shared skills, knowledge and passions of the members.”

In recent years graphic novels have entered the mainstream, with books like Watchmen making the New York Times Bestseller list. 

Introducing dark, complex anti-heroes and breath-taking art to the masses, they have helped give credibility to a genre that is no longer regarded as pulp fiction.

But despite the clamour for Thor, Hulk and all things superhero, Marruffo likes her comics to be grounded in reality.

“I love Alan Moore however I’ve never read Watchmen,” she says. “I’m far more interested in the works of people who I can connect with in real life. 

“Whose stories are ones that talk about the place and time and experiences that are meaningful to me.”

Perth Comic Arts Festival is at ECU Mt Lawley next Saturday (July 3) 10am-4pm.

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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